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Evaporating ads demonstrate the impact of rough sleeping in extreme heat

Water-activated street art from CPB for the Single Homeless Project shows the dangerous affects heat can have on homeless people.

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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From cancelled trains to the lack of air-conditioned buildings, the recent heatwave brought the UK to its knees. Yet, for homeless people, the effects of a heatwave are even more dangerous when access to cooling water is not just a kitchen tap away.

Climate modellers are now sounding the alarm for a second 40°C peak in August and with UK heatwaves as much as 10 times more likely now according to the Met, CPB has created a water-activated street art installation for the Single Homeless Project to help draw attention to the dangerous effects of heat on homeless people.

Across London CPB has created activations that are invisible to the eye until splashed with water. Once splashed the pavement art appears to reveal someone lying on the ground with the message “No Home. No Water.” As the water evaporates, the image slowly disappears to remind audiences of all of the risks people forced to live on the streets face during a heatwave. 

The ‘No Home. No Water’ art appeared in central London locations including: Parliament Square, Upper Street in Angel, Shoreditch High Street, Spur Street in Waterloo and Tooley Street in London Bridge. A recent study found that London had the highest heat-related mortality rate of anywhere in the UK.

Along with the evaporating installation is a series of ‘reverse graffiti’ pavement art. Water jets were used to remove dirt from the surface, leaving behind the image and ‘No Home. No Water’ message. 

“Just as with extreme cold, anyone sleeping rough is at risk during a heatwave. Severe sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke are all real risks. If you have no home, you can’t just grab a glass of water from your kitchen to cool down.” explained  Tonia Murphy, Regional Head of Rough Sleeping Services from Single Homeless Project.

She added: “We help one Londoner at risk of or experiencing homelessness every hour and as the city heat continues, we’re working hard to help people off the streets and into a place to call home. We can all do our bit to help a fellow Londoner who might be struggling by asking how they are, offering water, suncream or an umbrella for shade.”

Last week local authorities across the country launched Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP) after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a level three heat alert for the heatwave. Measures taken include increasing outreach shifts, outreach patrols doing welfare checks and handing out sunscreen and water as well as directing people sleeping rough to cool spaces. 

To find out more about what you can help or donate to the Single Homeless Project please click here.  

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